Kobe Bryant Day, sometimes called Mamba Day, is a commemoration of the legacy of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
It is celebrated on August 24 (8/24), taken from Bryant’s jersey numbers during different stages of his career. Kobe wore No. 8 since his rookie season (96-97) and switched to #24 right before 2006-07. Coincidentally, Bryant’s birthday is August 23.
Unlike other unofficial holidays, Kobe Bryant Day has a backing of a congressional resolution. Rep. Michelle Steel announced in July 2021 that she authored a resolution in Congress to designate August 24 as Kobe Bryant Day.
History of the Kobe Bryant Day
The Los Angeles City Council introduced August 24 as Kobe Bryant Day in 2016. After his retirement in April 2016, City Councilman Jose Huizar said that the declaration of Kobe Bryant Day was a way for the city of Los Angeles to thank Bryant’s dedication and legacy.
Bryant played 20 full seasons in the NBA, all for the Lakers. He wore both jersey numbers, 8 and 24, for ten seasons each. Over his career, Bryant accumulated numerous awards and accolades. He was selected to an All-NBA team 15 times, an All-Star 18 times, won five championships, one league MVP, and two Finals MVPs. He also retired as the third all-time leading scorer behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.
(Ironically, LeBron James passed Bryant’s scoring record one day before his tragic passing.)
On January 26, 2020, Kobe and seven others died when the helicopter they boarded crashed somewhere in Calabasas. Months after the tragic incident, the Board of Supervisors of Orange County unanimously voted to make August 24 Kobe Bryant Day. Steel was also the chair of the Orange Country Board when they decided before she became a congresswoman.
Kobe Bryant’s Legacy
Observing Kobe Bryant Day is more than a commemoration of an outstanding basketball career. Bryant played for 20 years in Los Angeles, but his impact reached every corner of the world. He was and still is a global icon in every sense of the word.
Aside from the championships, scoring records, and other tangible stuff, Kobe was the epitome of relentless drive and focus. He embodied “Mamba Mentality,” the mindset that tells you to strike hard when the target is within reach. As Kobe himself articulately wrote in “Dear Basketball,” the game asked for his hustle and gave it his heart. That’s how he was.
Shortly after hanging up the sneakers, Kobe quickly turned up the following few chapters in his life. He always said he loved to tell stories, which he did. He traveled around the world, speaking about he approached his career. He also wrote books, became a filmmaker, and won a freaking Oscar. Bryant also coached his daughter Gigi’s basketball team and was on the way to a basketball tournament when the accident happened.
When news of Kobe’s death resonated, it wasn’t just heard in Los Angeles. The tremors hit the whole NBA, and the shrapnel sprayed worldwide. From China to Italy and the Philippines, people grieved the untimely death of a legend. But then again, he may be gone, but the memories remain forever.
How to Observe Kobe Bryant Day
If you are a Kobe Bryant fan like I am, there wouldn’t be any shortage of ideas on how to observe Mamba Day. Here are some:
Play basketball. When he was still at his physical peak, Kobe breathed and lived basketball. The best way to feel Bryant’s legacy is to lace up some sneakers, go to the court, and play as hard as possible.
Watch Kobe’s greatest games. The 81-point virtuosity is certainly up there, but Kobe’s playoff performances against San Antonio in the 2001 and 2008 Western Conference Finals were also similar.
Read Kobe’s Books and Documentaries. Kobe wrote five books and made one documentary called ‘Muse.’ I suggest checking them out.
Take a walk at Staples Center. This is not for everyone, but there is nothing like going near the building that Kobe has essentially lived in for two decades.
Visit a Kobe mural. After his death, Kobe and Gigi’s murals can be seen worldwide. With around 300 in the Los Angeles area. There is a website dedicated to where you can find a Kobe mural, so you might want to check out if there is one near you.
5 Unbelievable Kobe Bryant Moments
Kobe had star power. Here are just a few examples.
Makes Two Free Throws After Achilles Injury
In year 16, Kobe may have lost a step or two, and the defensive acumen of his youth was not there. Still, he was essentially averaging 27-6-6 and came up big in the games they needed to win as they fought for a playoff spot.
On April 12, 2013, the Warriors matchup was one of those games. You may want to call this “the Achilles game,” “the last game Kobe played like the “Kobe of old,” or whatever. When Bryant tore his Achilles tendon, he walked teeny, tiny steps to the free-throw line. He then calmly sank the two free throws to tie the game at 109 and proceeded to the locker room.
That’s toughness and dedication personified.
Outscored the Mavs after three quarters
Kobe could get hot in an instant; we all know that. This game was one of the earliest proof of his insane scoring ability.
On December 20, 2005, Bryant’s early barrage had the Lakers up comfortably after three quarters against the Mavs.
But wait, this stat is insane: With an entire 4th quarter to go, Kobe tallied 62 points to Dallas’ 61. He outscored a whole team by himself after 36 minutes! The game was out of reach at that time. He never saw another minute again, but yes, it was special.
Less than a month after scoring 62, Bryant was at it again. No surprise there. While he never saw the need to pad his scoring stats in that Mavs game, he certainly needed every drop in this game against Toronto.
With the Lakers starting slow, Kobe caught fire in the second half and ended up with 81 points, the second-highest single-game point total in NBA history. More impressive was that the Lakers turned an 18-point first-half deficit into an 18-point win when the dust settled.
2000 Finals Game 4
If there was a game that let us see the birth of a prime-time performer, this was it.
The 2000 NBA Finals were much closer than the 4-1 standings indicated. Bryant sprained his ankle in Game 2 and couldn’t give it a go in Game 3. Indiana was able to win Game 3 and was in a position to even up the series in Game 4.
As the game went into OT, it seemed likely that the Pacers would pull it off. Shaq was dominant (36 points and 21 rebounds), but he fouled out midway into overtime with the game in the balance. All 22 years of him, Kobe eventually took over by making three tough jumpers to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead.
60 Points in Last Game
This game was not supposed to mean anything, but it shows Kobe’s mentality more than anything. The Lakers were horrible that year and the Jazz, their opponents, were also out of the playoff race.
But then again, even though everyone thought Kobe would shoot a ton in his sendoff game, he still exceeded everybody’s expectations. Shaquille O’Neal challenged Kobe to go 50, but the Black Mamba went for a 60-piece. It was an emotional game for everyone in the building. The last words Kobe said were even more piercing if you think about it today.
By Jan Rey
Jan is a sucker for all things basketball and still yells, “Kobe!” every time he tosses a crumpled paper into a trash bin.
You are on our Kobe Bryant Day page.
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